Archive | January, 2011

3 Weeks…7 Company Parties

31 Jan

Well – one thing is clear – the Chinese certainly finish out the year (the lunar calendar year) with an endless series of parties.  Here are a few pictures from our Nianhui (annual party) Marathon!

Xi'an BMW Showroom Grand Opening. FASHION: Ivory Silk Dolce and Gabanna Jacket with a Black Wool Pencil Skirt

We kicked off the celebrations with the Grand Opening of a new BMW Showroom on Xi’an’s newest and most prominent International Shopping Street.

With Chris – The Most Darling Girl from Xi’an!

Chris is the assistant to Harris, the General Manager of the Xi’an stores.  She is such a doll.  Not only does she help us plan our trips and arrange our entertainment during our stays – she also talks Gossip Girl with me!  (And let’s be honest – with Brett too. He is a shameless fan!)

Brett, Morgan, Oscar, Brandi, Fancy Nancy, and Terry. FASHION: Taupe and Black Lace Dress from Forever XXI with Leopard Print Stockings

Dinner with some of Brett’s Team – from accounting to IT.  Lucky for me – we didn’t have to discuss numbers or motherboards! And, I was able to speak Mandarin almost the entire meal.  Ok -it might have been 2nd grade Mandarin…but you have to start somewhere!

Nancy, Morgan, Brett

Fancy Nancy (as I call her – due to her love of bedazzling every office accessory on her desk with pink crystals) is Brett’s amazing assistant.  Her english is outstanding (after studying in New Zealand) and she is just a ball of fun!

Me and My Xi'an Boyfriend Edward. FASHION: Black and Royal Blue Polkadot Strapless Dress from Tootsies circa 1986

At the Xi’an Nianhui with Edward (Marketing Director of Xi’an stores and MC of the annual party) who introduced me as a Hollywood Movie Star to the crowd of 500 guests.  Who knew all I had to do was move to a country of brunettes to be considered a star?  Hair dye…worth it’s weight in gold!

Morgan and Brett Xi'an Nianhui

Seating assignments are taken very seriously in China.  In fact – there is a well known science to it.  Most (if not all) of the tables are round and seat up to 12 guests.  The guest of honor is seated in the center seat facing the stage – to the right and left are the next round of important guests (or me if I am with Brett!) and so on and so on.  The special seat is marked with a napkin folded to look like a dragon.   In a private room or residence, this seat would be placed furthest from the door, and it would be assumed that the person sitting in the special seat would pick up the check!

Urumqi Nianhui. FASHION: Lavender Silk BCBG Runway Cocktail Dress with Traditional Urumqi Headgear

Urumqi – a city in the most western province of China that borders Kazakhstan and has a population of over 2.5 million – was absolutely freezing!  I wore open toed shoes of course and lost feeling in my toes after hoofing through the snow.  But I mean – boots just don’t work with a cocktail dress.

Urumqi Nianhui Mask Game

In all fairness, Brett was blind folded when he drew this.  But should I be concerned if this is how he pictures me when his eyes are closed?  I sort of look like Sloth from The Goonies.

Filling the Ice Sculpture with Champagne at the Beijing Nianhui

This was actually pretty cool.  It originally looked like a big plain block of ice – but as it filled with the Champagne  – all of the NCGA brand logos (BMW, Porsche, Jaguar, Volvo, and Mini) magically appeared!

Beijing Nianhui

This picture was taken seconds before Brett climbed into a black magic box to “appear” out of nowhere in front of the 1000+ guests.  After mysteriously emerging from the box – I was asked to verify his identity – which I did entirely in Chinese!  Maybe even 3rd grade Chinese!

Group Pic at Beijing Nianhui
Beijing Jaguar Showroom Grand Opening

This showroom (the largest in all of China) is absolutely stunning.  Hats off to the designer!  Also – a live band performed and at one point, Brett and I thought they were actually playing an Alicia Keys CD.  The singer was phenomenal!

Jaguar Showroom Opening

Brett and I with Fiona (left) one of the in-house attorneys and Sherry (right) the VP of HR.

Driver Dinner

Brett and I with our dear driver Allen whom we also consider to be our 21 year old son!  We (along with others and their drivers) treated him to Peking Duck and presented him with his Hong Bao (a red envelope filled with his year-end bonus).  It was his first time to try Maltai (a Chinese Wine that literally burns your throat and makes your face turn bright red!)  Needless to say – we provided him with a driver to get him home.  No drunk driving aloud!

Solena, Morgan, Allen, and Brett at Driver Dinner

Solena (our Chinese teacher AND friend) joined us for the dinner.

Allen and Brett

This season of company parties, while a bit exhausting, was also so much fun.  I love to experience new ways of celebrating!

Welcome 2011!

29 Jan

New Year's Eve 2011 at Maison Boulud

Maison Boulud is Daniel Boulud’s restaurant here in Beijing.  It is clearly the best “pretty” french food in town.  Although, we prefer Brasserie Flo for the classics like steak tartare and frisee salads!

NYE 2011! FASHION: Vintage Silver Lame Animal Print Strapless Dress with a Thin Black Patent Leather Belt, Michael Kors Pewter Platforms, and a Black and Silver Tulle Fascinator

I wanted to get a full length picture before the meal – or should I say…before the I put a giant food baby in my belly!  The dress was already a bit tight!

NYE 2011

The grand entrance to Maison Boulud – which at one time was the American Embassy.  It is absolutely stunning!

New Year's Eve Wrist Corsage

Like I said before (in the Christmas Eve Blog Entry)…I am trying to bring the wrist corsage back.  I actually just ordered 2 dozen elastic bands from a floral supply  store in the states.  I will be bringing them back to Beijing after our trip home next week!  Can’t wait!  The options are endless here as far as flowers go – and they are soooo cheap!

New Year's Day at Union Cafe in Sanlitun

We went to Union Cafe (a western restaurant that caters to expats) in search of Black Eyed Peas, Pork, and Greens…no luck! Hopefully – this doesn’t mean 2011 is going to be a bust.  Fingers crossed!

Happy 2011 to you all!  Or better yet…Tu Nian Kuai Le!  Happy Bunny Year!

Brett’s Birthday Get Away to The City of Lights

22 Jan

La Tour Eiffel! FASHION: Multi-Colored Fox Fur Jacket with Brown Suede Over-the-Knee Boots

I love Paris in the Springtime….I love Paris in the Fall!  Ahh – gay Paris!  Is there any other city so full of romance – delicious wines, the creamiest butter, and steak tartare served to perfection?  I think not.  So – I decided to surprise Brett with a trip to The City of Lights for his birthday celebration.

We left Beijing on a red eye flight on Aeroflot – a Russian Airline that offered a first class fare for almost the exact same price as the coach fare of Air France.  So that was a no-brainer.  Thank you Kayak!  We did have a quick stop in Moscow – which was actually kind of fun, and we arrived in Paris at 7AM.  By the way, I would recommend this airline.  Their fleet of planes might be a little older than other airlines, although the interiors do appear to have been updated, the service was excellent, and the price was right.

On Plane to Paris

I knew we would have plenty of time to freshen up once we arrived at the hotel seeing that Paris doesn’t really wake until almost 10.  Gotta love the 30 hour work week!  We stayed at Hotel Cambon – a sweet little boutique hotel across from the original Chanel store and Coco’s actual apartment.  All the rooms have a different, very modern and eclectic design, and ours even had a balcony overlooking a section of the Tuileries Gardens.  It was lovely.  I had arranged for a chocolate birthday cake and champagne to be in the room upon arrival. Okay…8AM might have been a little early to pop the bubbly – but it was 3PM Beijing time – and that is definitely happy hour in France.  So when you do the math – it was clearly acceptable.

In Front of Brasserie Lipp

Our first day was spent at the Musee Dorsay to visit the Impressionists followed by a late lunch at Brasserie Lipp in Saint-Germain to devour steak tartare and escargot.  The evening was spent at Guy Savoy – a 3 Michelin star restaurant.  We gorged ourselves on a 7-course tasting menu with wine pairings that included Guy’s infamous truffled artichoke soup – quite possibly the best thing I have ever put in my mouth.  I think it is obvious that our clothes fit a little bit tighter after our trip!

The next morning we awoke bright and early to wonder the streets while most Parisians were still warm in their beds.  We hit many of the necessary spots…a kiss on the Lover’s Bridge, a stroll by the Seine, the L’Arc de Triomphe on Champs Elysee. And, when our feet (I should say my feet in 5″ heels) couldn’t take anymore, we stopped by Cafe Marly overlooking the Louvre for a mid-morning snack.  For lunch (yes – the trip was based around eating) we went to Nomiya on top of the Palais de Tokyo modern art museum.

Nomiya at Palais de Tokyo

I had read an article about this place in the NY Times a while back, and it sounded very interesting.  Honestly, it exceeded every one of our expectations, and it was one of our favorite activities during the trip.  The lunch – which you must make reservations for well in advance – hosts 12 guests and no more.

Lover's Bridge

Perched on top of the museum in a tiny glass building, we ate great food at a communal table with interesting guests and a panoramic view of the city.  It was a great time – and as it turned out, the woman sitting across from us had lived in Murray, Kentucky (my off the beaten path tiny hometown) for a couple of years as a child.  What are the odds?

The Louvre. FASHION: Ivory Bunny Fur Jacket with an Eggplant American Apparel Lycra Skirt, matching tights, and Fuchsia Gladiators. Taupe Bottega Veneta Top Handle Tote

The remainder of the trip was spent at many other Parisian classics – The Bar at the Ritz, George V, the Pont Neuf, Hotel Costes, some shopping for the birthday boy in the Marais, window shopping on Faubourg Saint Honoree, Plaza Athenee (for drinks with my cute friend Jenny Leeper, her handsome fiance, and her very sweet mother) and a grand finale stop at La Tour Eiffel.  All in all – a perfect trip.

More Pictures from Paris….

Breakfast at Hotel Costes

Le Pont Neuf

Self Portrait at Plaza Athenee

%d bloggers like this: